American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Avalanche — Triggered by Climber, New Hampshire, Mount Washington, Pinnacle Gully

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2012

AVALANCHE - TRIGGERED BY CLIMBER

New Hampshire, Mount Washington, Pinnacle Gully

On March 10 shortly after 10:30 a.m., a solo ice climber (31) fell approximately 1,150 feet after triggering an avalanche in Pinnacle Gully. The avalanche deposited him at the bottom of the area known as the “Fan” about 50 feet below the debris pile. He sustained significant injuries but was able to call 911 from his cell phone to alert authorities of the accident. USFS Snow Rangers were notified of the accident by the Androscoggin Ranger District and arrived on scene with rescue equipment around 11:15 a.m. After the patient’s injuries were stabilized (possible fractured femur and noted—but not immediately treated—an angulated wrist and superficial facial contusions and abrasions) were stabilized, he was packaged into a rescue sled and transported behind a snowmobile to an ambulance waiting at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

Analysis

The avalanche danger for Pinnacle Gully this day was listed as “Considerable”, based on new snow being blown in on southerly winds around 40-50mph. Between 7.3” and 8.0” of new snow was recorded from the storm before it changed over to rain on Friday. It is unclear how much snow had fallen at the time of the avalanche, but we estimate about four inches. The avalanche was triggered in new snow sitting on top of a rain crust and was classified as D2R3. (Source: mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org)

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